Let’s Go Farming season 2 is almost here and on our screens via TV3.
Now, let’s look at the key planning stages for our schools which want to want to work on their school gardens (don’t forget to share/record your every stage of your school garden – photography).
Schools’ planning steps
- Identify a location for the garden.
- Look at safety guidelines and school policy documents as required.
- Consider when you want the garden to be completed by, and produce an action plan.
- Establish a group to move the project forward and decide who will project-manage the garden’s design and building, and who will maintain it later.
- Incorporate the project into the school development plan.
- Find out if any of the skills needed exist in the school community – parents, governors or the friends/PTA; for example Lets Go Farming School Gardening team.
- Share the vision. Engage everyone in the school community – managers, staff, parents and pupils. Make everyone is aware of the potential of a school garden and the benefits your school will gain from using it.
- Establish the site’s orientation (N, S, E and W). This will influence what grows there.
- Survey the site – walk around it, see what you have there. Are there paths or sheds you need to keep? Are there any plants that could still be used? What trees do you have? Check to see if any of the trees are protected by preservation orders or are in a conservation area.
- Ensure risk assessments are completed before any work is started in the garden. If it’s a busy area, ensure the site is cleared of weeds and dangerous rodent habitats are eliminated from the school garden space.
Designing the School Garden
Get younger children involved in carrying out a survey to see what they want (together with the older pupils who will manage the school garden)
Look at the schools chosen site for the school garden (how big is it? What type of soil do you have? How much natural light and shade do you have, how much moisture do you have? Are there any permanent features you will have to work with on the garden?), and other considerations include:
- The distance from the classrooms
- Water supplies
- Storage of equipment
- Access to toilets
- The site’s security
Establish the garden’s purpose
What is the purpose of your school garden? Is it to teach certain subjects outdoors such as integrated science (Agriculture), math or English? Is it to complement your school feeding programme?
Decide on shape and position of planting beds
If your school has land-space for gardening, then narrow beds are good for children as they can reach the middle for planting and weeding from both sides without stepping in the garden bed or compacting the soil. If your school does not have land-space, consider container gardening (how many containers, shape, colour and size).
Incorporate sustainability into the garden design
Let’s Go Farming school gardens encourage organic gardening only.
Chemicals are best avoided where there is a possibility of children involved in the gardening process consuming the plants or putting their fingers in the ground and back in their mouths. Contact the Lets Go Farming School Gardening team for organic means of handling pest and diseases in your garden.
Choosing what to grow
Choose plants suitable for your purpose of gardening, age of students, garden site and conditions. This may take a little more time but is absolutely worth it. There are lots of varieties of vegetables, fruit and herbs to choose from. There are some crops like corn that will complement history lessons of our land (Ga Homowo festival) etc.
Consider those with special needs in your design
When designing your school garden (land or container), the priority is to design entrances, outdoor paths and hard surfaces to accommodate as full a range of special needs as possible. This will ensure that children are not denied access to any of the opportunities, and activities are not denied to special needs children.
Implementing the school garden plan
Clear the site of weeds and rubbish (land gardening). Try to involve the children as much as possible in the garden-build, as this helps them form a feeling of ownership and care toward it.
Make sure labels with names of the plants are written in a large, easy-to-read font, in lower case. To make it fun, use the common name and add the Latin/scientific names of the plant.
For more information or assistance with your school garden, contact the Let’s Go Farming School Gardening Team on 0544948180 or via email: [email protected] or via any of our social media platforms. Looking forward to sharing your school garden story.